The August GenForward Survey by the Black Youth Project finds that young adults across racial categories have vastly different experiences with police. These differences might make a major impact on the upcoming presidential election.

According to the poll, black and white young adults report similar rates of being stopped by police, 75% and 74% respectively. However, black respondents reported much higher arrest rates, at 28%, compared to 10% for Asian Americans, 22% of Latinx, and 15% of white young adults. Likewise, the poll finds that African American young adults report higher rates of police harassment and mistreatment than any other racial category, including Asian American, Latinx, and white young adults. African American young adults are also the racial group that is least likely to trust the police or believe that the police are there to protect them.

The GenForward Survey is a monthly panel survey of 1,958 young adults, aged 18-30, with an oversample of youth of color. This survey is conducted by The Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago with the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Respondents were surveyed from August 1st through August 14th, 2016. The August survey asks youth their opinions on a range of topics, including the 2016 election, policing, and immigration.

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Around 24% of African Americans report being harassed by police themselves, and 53% report that someone they know has been harassed by police. Only 4% of Asian Americans and 8% of white respondents report being harassed by police, while 16% of Latinx youth report police harassment. On the other hand, 26% of Asian Americans, 35% of Latinx, and 22% of white youth report knowing someone who has endured police harassment.

For all their differing experiences with police, youth across racial categories can agree on two things: that police treat some groups better than others, and that police treat African Americans and Latinx folks worse than other racial groups: around 95% of African Americans, 94% of Asian Americans, 94% of Latinx, and 87% of young white adults agree that African Americans are mistreated by police.

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Majorities in each racial category also agree that Latinx people are mistreated by the police, at 69% for African Americans, 77% for Asian Americans, 87% of Latinx, and 76% of young white adults.

These differences in perceived treatment matter. Given the ongoing tensions in the country about race and immigration, these findings point to ongoing issues with police enforcement for youth of color.

It is crucial that young Latinx and African American adults feel just as safe and protected by the police as any other group. Yet these reports demonstrate that some youth are having an entirely different experience with police officers than their peers. Findings like these are an important first step in diagnosing problems with police enforcement with the hopes of eventual reform.


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